Transfers take time

Home buyers — especially first time purchasers — are often puzzled by the length of time it takes before they are able to take ownership of their new property and go through unnecessary anxiety because they don't understand the conveyancing process.

Saul Geffen, managing director or MortgageSA says: "Conveyancing is the process of obtaining registered and lawful ownership of fixed property and the registration of the bond. A broad understanding of the timescales and some of the pitfalls involved will make the waiting period less stressful."

Most people are not aware that the legal process involved in property conveyancing calls for over 50 consecutive steps to be completed, from receipt of the signed deed of sale to lodgement at the Deeds Office.

"The conveyancing process normally takes a minimum of eight to ten weeks if the buyer’s bond has been approved. If the deal is dependent on the buyer selling his present property, this needs to be written into the deed of sale. The period within which bond approval must be obtained must also be clearly stated in the document to avoid the sale being delayed indefinitely."

Three different lawyers can be involved
Geffen says that although one attorney may be appointed to carry out all the tasks involved in the process, it is not uncommon for three different lawyers to handle various facets. Apart from the transfer attorney, there is usually also a registrations attorney who registers the bond, and a cancellation attorney to cancel the previous owner’s mortgage.

While few buyers and sellers will wish to involve themselves unnecessarily in the legal processes and most have to trust that their attorneys are managing the conveyancing effectively. It is important for buyers and sellers to be aware that if the steps involved in the conveyancing process are not carried out in the correct sequence this can result in lengthy and often costly delays.

Avoiding delays
Delays may occur if the buyer fails to provide all the information required by the attorney — for example he does not timeously provide the guarantees required.

Other factors include failing to pay the bond and transfer costs on time, or delaying the signing of the transfer or registration documents. Sellers, too, may hold up the process: tardiness in signing the transfer documents or obtaining an electrical clearance certificate and beetle certificate may cause delays.

Geffen says that, while meeting all the legal requirements of buying a property may seem like a minefield, property finance consultants who are fully versed in these procedures are able to guide and advise home buyers to ensure that unnecessary delays are avoided and stress is kept to a minimum.

Article by: Iona Minton -